Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of The White House’s proposed $10.10 federal minimum wage, giving credence to Republican claims that the hike might have a negative effect on employment by costing 500,000 jobs. The CBO also estimates $10.10 would lift 900,000 families out of poverty and increase the incomes of more than 16 million low-wage workers.
As with most policy proposals, there are some people who benefit and some who will be harmed by an increase in the minimum wage, and the CBO report seemed to find just that. The New York Times reported that: “Republicans contended the policy would be a job-killer, while Democrats asserted it would help alleviate poverty. Economists said both might be right. And the White House, in an unusual twist, openly disputed the budget office’s math.”
An unusual twist, but not necessarily a surprising one. One doesn’t have to look hard for headlines from the past, declaring “White House Touts CBO Report” on any number of topics. “White House Touts CBO Immigration Report,” said one. “CBO: President’s Budget Will Bring Down The Deficit,” declares a White House press release from 2012 and shortly thereafter, the President’s budget would go down with zero “yes” votes in Congress from either party.
When it is convenient, the CBO is the Nonpartisan Arbiter of Absolute Truth. When inconvenient, CBO is—well—pay no attention to that report they just released.
Inconsistency in Washington politics today is the rule, not the exception, and it goes far beyond bill scoring. A filibuster is awful obstructionism, until it is used to stop a bill your side thinks is bad. “Dark shadowy money buying elections” is another person’s “important voter education campaign on a key issue.” When it’s a conservative group spreading the word about the downsides of the Affordable Care Act or the perils of our massive national debt, it’s bashed as a perversion of democracy; when the content changes to talking to the public about climate change, suddenly it seems to some like a great act of service to educate the voting public.
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